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'The dead on the Arctic Rose are not resting in peace': Why an investigator went rogue

Maxwell Hendrix
Bob Ford, retired investigator with the NTSB.

In the small hours of April 2, 2001, a 92-foot trawler called the Arctic Rose was swallowed up by the Bering Sea. The Seattle-based crew of 15 went down with it, and it was called the deadliest fishing accident in 50 years.There was no mayday call, no survivors and no obvious reason for this terrible tragedy.

A Coast Guard investigation came up with its most likely scenario: that the crew had mistakenly left a watertight door open, allowing waves to swamp the boat.

But that never sat right with Bob Ford. Ford was an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. Ford developed his own explanation for what likely happened, which he then proceeded to sit on for 14 years.

Finally, in 2015, a by-now retired Bob Ford decided to become a squeaky wheel.

"I just said hey, this could be the last gasp, the last chance to get the truth out," Ford said, lamenting that in the official story, it's the crew that bears responsibility. "The family members are sitting back thinking that the reason their loved ones died was because they left the back door open."

Ford talked with Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer from Virginia, where he now lives, to explain his theory and why he decided to go public with it. 

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.